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Selection of the Month
Dog's Best Friend? by
In almost 40 per cent of households in North America, dogs are kept as companion animals. Dogs may be man's best friends, but what are humans to dogs? If these animals' loyalty and unconditional love have won our hearts, why do we so often view closely related wild canids, such as foxes, wolves, and coyotes, as pests, predatory killers, and demons? Re-examining the complexity and contradictions of human attitudes towards these animals, Dog's Best Friend? looks at how our relationships with canids have shaped and also been transformed by different political and economic contexts.
The following conversation points will be used as basic prompts for discussion, food for thought, etc.
- What is the central idea discussed in the book? What issues or ideas does the author explore? Are they personal, sociological, global, political, economic, spiritual, medical, or scientific?
- Do the issues affect your life? How so—directly,on a daily basis, or more generally? Now or sometime in the future?
- What are the implications for the future? Are there long- or short-term consequences to the issues raised in the book? Are they positive or negative...affirming or frightening?
- How controversial are the issues raised in the book? Who is aligned on which sides of the issues? Where do you fall in that line-up?
- Talk about specific passages that struck you as significant—or interesting, profound, amusing, illuminating, disturbing, sad...? What was memorable?
Adapted from Generic Nonfiction Questions https://www.litlovers.com/run-a-book-club/questions-for-nonfiction
Zoom Meeting Information
Zoom information will be provided closer to the planned meeting: 12:00pm-1:00pm, November 24, 2021.
Further Reading and Materials
Laws, Policies, Attitudes and Processes That Shape the Lives of Puppies in America by Puppies - nubile, tender, and pure - have become endeared to U.S. society, and to some extent, the world. Puppies are the holy grail of animal companions to Americans. They are glorified above other animals and protected by numerous laws, yet they are systematically, lawfully, and illegally abused, tortured, and killed. A vast array of opinions, policies, protocols, rules, regulations, and laws govern treatment or mistreatment of puppies demonstrating that appreciation for puppies is neither ubiquitous, nor superseding. Puppies may be subjected to painful product testing in the U.S., but not in Europe, despite their glorified status above other animals. This book details the myriad of laws, policies, attitudes, misfortunes, and processes shaping puppies' lives in America. Specialized topics such as Bestiality, Child Grooming, Pornography, Film, Mythology, and Art are addressed to build an argument that overall, treatment of puppies in the U.S. reflects priorities, needs, values, and morals which are contextually based on human desires, capabilities, survival mechanisms, altruism, American family life, and the economy. The randomized yet selective treatment of puppies typifies American culture, and to some extent other cultures, at least in the American purview. The author analyzes physiological comparisons between humans and dogs to discover why Americans may be so interested in puppies. The foundations of this research are law, social and behavioral science, policies, history, politics, animal studies, animal welfare, criminal justice, sociology, anthropology, and current events.
Our Dogs, Ourselves by From Alexandra Horowitz, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Inside of a Dog, an eye-opening, informative, and wholly entertaining examination and celebration of the human-canine relationship for the curious dog owner and science-lover alike. We keep dogs and are kept by them. We love dogs and (we assume) we are loved by them. We buy them sweaters, toys, shoes; we are concerned with their social lives, their food, and their health. The story of humans and dogs is thousands of years old but is far from understood. In Our Dogs, Ourselves, Alexandra Horowitz explores all aspects of this unique and complex interspecies pairing. As Horowitz considers the current culture of dogdom, she reveals the odd, surprising, and contradictory ways we live with dogs. We celebrate their individuality but breed them for sameness. Despite our deep emotional relationships with dogs, legally they are property to be bought, sold, abandoned, or euthanized as we wish. Even the way we speak to our dogs is at once perplexing and delightful. In thirteen thoughtful and charming chapters, Our Dogs, Ourselves affirms our profound affection for this most charismatic of animals--and opens our eyes to the companions at our sides as never before.
Call Number: ARCHER SF 426 H64 2020
What's a Dog For? by John Homans adopted his dog, Stella, from a shelter for all the usual reasons: fond memories of dogs from his past, a companion for his son, an excuse for long walks around the neighborhood. Soon enough, she is happily ensconced in the daily workings of his family. And not only that: Stella is treated like a family member--in ways that dogs of his youth were not. Spending humanlike sums on vet bills, questioning her diet and exercise regimens, contemplating her happiness--how had this all come to pass, when the dogs from Homans's childhood seemed quite content living mostly out in the yard? In What's a Dog For?, Homans explores the dog's complex and prominent place in our world and how it came to be. Evolving from wild animals to working animals to nearly human members of our social fabric, dogs are now the subject of serious scientific studies concerning pet ownership, evolutionary theory, and even cognitive science. From new insights into what makes dogs so appealing to humans to the health benefits associated with owning a dog, Homans investigates why the human-canine relationship has evolved so rapidly--how dogs moved into our families, our homes, and sometimes even our beds in the span of a generation, becoming a $53 billion industry in the United States in the process. As dogs take their place as coddled family members and their numbers balloon to more than seventy-seven million in the United States alone, it's no surprise that canine culture at large is also undergoing a massive transformation. They are now subject to many of the same questions of rights and ethics as people, and the politics of dogs are more tumultuous and public than ever-- with fierce moral battles raging over kill shelters, puppy mills, and breed standards. Incorporating interviews and research from scientists, activists, breeders, and trainers, What's a Dog For? investigates how dogs have reached this exalted status and why they hold such fascination for us. With one paw in the animal world and one paw in the human world, it turns out they have much to teach us about love, death, and morality--and ultimately, in their closeness and difference, about what it means to be human.
Call Number: ARCHER SF 426 H63 2012